With the CMA Awards a little over a week away, PEOPLE asked this year’s crop of Album of the Year nominees to look back and share their favorite winning albums from the past.
Luke Bryan weighed in with Alabama’s The Closer You Get , which took home the award in 1983 and produced three No. 1 singles including “Dixieland Delight.”
“That album came out when I was a kid and I remember just loving everything about Alabama I didn’t know why I liked it, I just loved singing their songs and there was one image and one memory that’ll always last,” recalled Bryan, 38.
“When I was a kid, my family and I, it was kind of it was karaoke before karaoke. We had a guitar amp in my sister’s bedroom and a microphone and we would play the album The Closer You Get and we would sing through the microphone through a guitar amp and we sang all night and it’s just a memory that has always stuck in my head,” he said. “I had a guitar and I was sitting there and I didn’t know what I was playing but I was acting like Alabama to that album.”
As for his own album, Crash My Party, that’s currently up for Album of the Year, Bryan told PEOPLE, “I am so happy, I finally hear my voice and think this is how I always hoped I sound. I’ve finally hit all strides like I wanted to.”
And with the singer’s fourth studio album selling more than 500,000 copies in its release week alone – plus a record-breaking tour this summer – he’s not at all worried about his brand of country upsetting the guardians of traditional country music.
“I think I’ve already made all them mad!” he joked. “I can’t get caught up worrying about that. I mean when I went to college and got into a fraternity, all the old fraternity guys, the alumnus, would come in and go, ‘Aw, things ain’t like they used to be!’ That whole bit – ‘America ain’t what it used to be. Country ain’t what it used to be. Music ain’t what it used to be.’ That’s just a waste of time in my opinion.”
Hear more from Bryan in the clip above, and check back Thursday for Eric Church’s Album of the Year favorite. The CMA Awards air live on Wednesday, Nov. 5, on ABC.
• Reporting by EILEEN FINAN